Monthly Archives: June 2015

Free food and a big heart

WHEN Judith Lightfoot read about a laneway in Ballarat where food is free to anyone who wants it, she thought, “Why can’t we do this in Warrandyte?”

So last month that’s exactly what she did.

Instead of a laneway she uses the Rotary op-shop, which she manages as a volunteer. Vandals wrecked her first attempt to give away food, so she moved her operation inside.

Now, there are food racks filled fruit, vegetables, herbs, bread and even baby formula.

The food has all been donated— it’s fresh and free to anybody who needs it.

“In this job you hear a lot of sad stories and people come in who need some assistance. It’s such a simple idea. People have extra [food] in their gardens. They can bring it in and share it.”

When the Diary spoke to Judith, the project had been going just three weeks and already more than 100 people had taken food. Donations were being dropped in every day, aided by a call out on the Warrandyte Business and Community Facebook page.

“It just makes me all warm and fuzzy,” Judith says.

Aldi is also donating food, as Rotary fits under their charitable guidelines. “We pick it up every Monday and Friday,” Judith says. “It’s such an adventure. We bring it back and make it look pretty.”

Judith, who is a former chef, says it’s really heart-warming to see all sorts of people coming in and taking the food—even if at first they are a bit shy.

“It needs to be taken while it’s fresh. So I say, ‘Grab something for the kids’ lunchboxes. Take what you need’.”

There are gold coin donation boxes to help people feel more comfortable taking the food, Judith explains.
“I get that people are embarrassed, so we just want to make it an enjoyable experience.

“Anyone’s welcome to it. Rotary doesn’t mind who has it. We can’t sell the food, and it makes us cry to throw it out.”

Judith is at pains to explain this initiative isn’t replacing the long-standing Warrandyte Food Bank, run by Margory Lapworth.

“This is new and it’s different to the food bank because it’s fresh food. We just need to see what happens.”

The #foodisfree movement started in Texas in 2012—with free planter boxes given to schools and community groups as edible gardens. Since then it’s spread around the world. Founder John VanDeusen Edwards estimates it’s operating in around 190 cities world-wide.

Anyone wishing to donate fresh food can drop it into the Rotary op shop, behind the Yarra street shops near the roundabout.

Chasing Chastity

IF anyone’s heard a cheerful “N’awlins” accent around Warrandyte recently, chances are you’ve bumped into the community’s latest sporting import.

Chastity Reed, former WNBA player and native of Louisiana, is the Warrandyte Venom’s newest star player. Having also plied her trade in Europe, Chastity joins Martino Brock as one of the two imports the club has secured for this season and she is loving the opportunity to play Australian basketball.

“Nicole Howard got in touch with my agent and we thought coming down here was a good way to keep me in shape, because right now is my off-season,” Chastity says.

The New Orleans-born basketballer was originally a footballer, until realising she would have a better chance of making an elite level in basketball. After moving to Dallas, she received a scholarship to college in Arkansas where her coach and her team’s style of offence allowed her to excel.

Now in the Australian basketball system, there are a few things Chastity has noticed.

“Over here, the players actually have better fundamentals. But overseas you probably find the more athletic players. It’s funny because I play tall in Australia, at the power forward position, but back home I was a guard.”

Adapting to Venom basketball is something Chastity has enjoyed and she hopes she can continue to make an impact for the remainder of her stay.

“I really trust my teammates already and I love the ball in their hands. I’m putting up some decent numbers and I don’t usually turn the ball over, so I think it’s going well.”

The style of basketball isn’t the only difference for Chastity, who has also made observations about the more easygoing mentality of the Australian persona.

“In Australia people are more laid back and easygoing, which is nice compared with back home. In Europe, people are really harsh and will crucify you. I like it out here because it’s a really close community.”

Having previously played at the highest level in America, after being drafted into the WNBA in 2011, Chastity is under no illusions for her future basketball goals.

“I want to be back in the WNBA because I am sure that I can play at that level. I know the girls who are playing there now and I know that I can compete,” Chastity says.

“I also feel I need to find a team that suits me as a player. One with a solid half court offence set that suits my game. I just need to get in the gym and do more so that I am at my best.”

But for now, Chastity is focusing on making the most of her time here in Warrandyte. Her status
as an import runs out at season’s end in July/August, and her time abroad is something that she believes more should have the opportunity to experience.

“I think Australia, Europe or wherever should allow more imports, as many as possible. Staying with Jenny Trewella has just been fantastic, they have been really great to me and it’s just been a great experience.”

The camel’s kiss

PETE’S jaw dropped mid-sentence as the inquisitive creature’s foul-smelling breath intruded on the deliciously rich, earthy outback air.

“Quickly!” he said, breathing as I scrambled in the passenger seat to grab my camera from the dusty red floor of the Land Cruiser. “Zac” had decided to participate in the cheerful human banter, projecting his huge rubbery mouth through the car window to give Pete a fetid, sloppy kiss.

I am on a secluded four-day trek with renowned landscape photographer Pete Dobré, run by Camel Treks Australia, deep in the varied landscape of the South Australian Flinders Ranges. Venturing on a spectacular journey from the perspective of an outback pioneer aboard a single humped camel, 
I was keen to capture the iconic ranges, a photographer’s utopia with a showcase of abundant wild- life and astonishing landscapes.

From Adelaide airport, we drive north through the Clare Valley wine and gourmet food district, established in the 1850s by Jesuit priests fleeing Silesia (Poland) and religious persecution (definitely worth a stop for lunch and perhaps a sample of the local vintage if you are a passenger!). Six hours and 400km later we arrive at the edge of Wilpena Pound—a natural mountain amphitheatre home to the small township of Hawker, 12km from our final destination.

The road to Wonoka Station basecamp is a hard compact dirt road, meaning there is no need for a 4WD, although the driveway is over 10km long. The alternative is travel via coach from Adelaide, with Genesis Tour and Charter to Hawker, where staff will collect and shuttle you to Wonoka Station.

We are greeted by husband and wife team Karen and Paul Ellis and their two children. The couple operates Camel Trek Australia tours over 20,000 acres. Following the obligatory safety drill, the gentle giants seeming to mildly protest their chewing being disturbed, groaned and then (not so graciously) lay down while the excited, impatient riders climbed aboard.

We were off!

Travelling in string formation, with each camel tied to the one in front Indiana Jones-style and led by a “cameleer”, we ventured 5km to our first base camp for the next two days. The honey-coloured sand- stone blocks of Mayo’s Hut are well over 100 years old, but renovated to house weary travellers on the Heysen Trail as well as those on camel treks. Camp was already set up and from the delicious aromas wafting by, it was obvious dinner was underway. Treated to nibblies, wine and a three-course meal prepared in mouth-watering, rustic outback style (all dietary needs catered), we kick back around a roaring campfire to exchange lively banter until it is time to hit the (rather luxurious) swags.

We awake each day to a huge hearty breakfast, and with lunches packed in camel saddlebags, we hit the trail each day for a new adventure.

For four days our surrounding scenery is an enticing smorgasbord for the eyes. The constantly evolving landscapes alternate from ruggedly mountainous ranges and spectacularly harsh, golden rocky gorges to delightfully cool and relaxing bubbling creeks (after the rain), sheltered by ancient river red gums and then onto the deep, rich sandy red plains stretching across the horizon as far as the eye can see.

Camel Treks Australia presents a fantastic opportunity to experience the organic breathtaking landscape of the Flinders Ranges, with many tour options to discover. It caters for school groups, families, photographers and adventurers—there is a trek for everyone.

More cameltreksaustralia.com.au